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Sunlight Sports, NEMO Equipment take top honors at Grassroots Outdoor Alliance awards

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KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) –Grassroots Outdoor Alliance (, the national organization dedicated to the health and growth of independent specialty retail, awarded their annual honors at the Grassroots Connect show last month.

Held on June 13, 2018, as the evening feature leading in to the Grassroots Connect trade show, the eagerly anticipated award gathering delivered surprises, smiles and emotion from a long list of award winners.

In the top categories, Sunlight Sports (Cody, Wyo.) was honored as Grassroots Retailer of the Year and NEMO Equipment (Manchester, N.H.) was named Vendor of the Year.

Townsend Bertram & Co (Carrboro, N.C.) was named Rookie of the Year; Next Adventure (Portland, Ore.) was honored with the Retailer Growth Award; and Ryan Krusemark of Kuhl (Salt Lake City, Utah) was named Sales Manager of the Year.

“As with any specialty retailer that is finding success right now, Sunlight Sports’s biggest asset is its community …The community of employees who work so hard every day, the community in Northwest Wyoming whom we love — and who chooses to shop with us even though all of the online people would love to take their money — and the outdoor industry community,” said Wes Allen, owner of Sunlight Sports, winner of Grassroots Retailer of the Year award. “We’re so fortunate to work with all of the folks at our partner brands, and our sales reps. Without all of their contributions, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

“We were honored and humbled to be recognized by such an outstanding group of retailers,“ said Mike Welch, VP of NEMO Equipment, winner of Grassroots Vendor of the Year award. “As NEMO is committed to bringing new and innovative products to market that have a unique story to tell, we know we need to work with the best retail partners to be successful, like those in the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance. They have the knowledge, credibility, and passion to bring our stories to life.”

“To be recognized by the people we admire most in our industry means more to us than I can aptly express in words,” said Betsy Bertram of Townsend Bertram & Co., winner of the Grassroots Rookie of the Year award. “The best thing that came out of winning the award was the great conversations it sparked with other retailers and brands throughout the week of the show. A big thanks to Grassroots Outdoor Alliance for the recognition and support!”

In additional recognition categories at the Grassroots Connect awards, honorees included:

  • Retailer Recognition for Creative Advertising & Marketing: Mahoney’s Outfitters (Johnson City, Tenn.)
  • Retailer Recognition for Community & Events: Pack & Paddle (Lafayette, La.)
  • Retailer Recognition for Merchandising Magic: The Toggery (Whitefish, Mont.)
  • Grassroots Board Special Recognition: Emily White of Roads Rivers Trails (Milford, Ohio).
  • Grassroots Board Service Recognition: Dan Epstein of Champaign Surplus (Champaign, Ill.).
  • Grassroots Board Rep Recognitions: Vision Merchandising (David Olson); Adventure Marketing Group (Wendy Stanley); Powers Sales Group (Sam Powers); Outdoor Sports Marketing (Scott Eddins, Tony Turner, Cullen Mann); Caraway & Co. (Dana Caraway); and Mountain Trading (Corbin Biehler).

ABOUT GRASSROOTS OUTDOOR ALLIANCE: Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is an active, independent network of 64 independent retailers working together for the health and growth of specialty outdoor retail. With 132 storefronts across 37 states, Grassroots member retailers currently total approximately $325 million in annual sales. Through data collection and analysis, direct member support, specialty events and deep vendor partnerships, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is creating both a vision and roadmap for the long-term success of independent specialty retail. Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is also recognized as a catalyst for the success of its retailers and vendor partners; an advocate for specialty independent retail; a promoter of education and community within the specialty channel; and a key influencer of the national outdoor industry. For more information on Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, please go to

ABOUT GRASSROOTS CONNECT: Efficient, affordable and effective for every attendee, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Connect is the only national show designed specifically to improve retail buying results. Scheduled as early as possible in the buying cycle, the growing Grassroots Connect show is now in its 20th year, and attracts nearly 1,000 independent specialty retailers, vendor brands, media, and members of the outdoor industry community to each show. Connect provides a highly efficient opportunity for retailers, reps and vendors to present, discuss, plan and collect pre-season orders. Cost-effective and simple, Connect is both an incubator and testing ground for the greater outdoor industry. Invited retailers receive a per attendee reimbursement to offset their travel costs. Future dates for Connect include Denver, Colorado (Nov. 4-7, 2018) and Knoxville, Tennessee (June 10-13, 2019). For more information on Grassroots Connect, please go to

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